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Honor Martin Luther King: Teach Kids about Racism

January 17th, 2011 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

At my oldest son’s Back to School Night his wonderful first grade teacher Ms. Flora announced that her class would be doing a musical about Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement.  She then uttered words I will never forget, “Parents sometimes ask me whether their children are ready to understand such a heavy subject, but first graders are very concerned about fairness. So, yes, they can certainly understand.”

Before that night, although Justin had many “aunts and uncles” of different cultures who were friends of the family, I had never really thought about talking to a six year old about racism and discrimination.  Thanks to Ms. Flora I now try to tackle this subject on a regular basis.  I have found that both travel and good literature present some of the best ways for kids to learn about racism and how we can overcome it.

Some people would say that thanks to the Civil Rights movement we don’t really have to talk with our kids about racism.  No one has to sit at the back of the bus anymore. Everyone drinks from the same water fountain.  We are all equal.  Still, I hear my son’s classmates say “Mexican” like it’s a dirty word.  I watch my friend who is an actor in Hollywood  be offered a series of roles that embody the stereotypes of his race for comic effect.  It saddens me greatly, especially as the mom of a biracial daughter that we live in a world that has not yet truly realized Martin Luther King’s dream.

So, I do what I can to raise kids who will work for that dream.  We read and discuss historical fiction that deals with this subject.  In our travels I try to call attention to historical exhibits that help my kids to understand the struggles of the many racial and ethnic groups that make up our great nation.  I have come upon a few such exhibits  in trips I have taken with my husband, and I hope to take the kids as soon as I can.  When we see racism or stereotypes out in the world,  we talk about them.  I try to consistently share and model the value of respect and compassion for all people.

Before bed tonight  I read my two youngest a book called The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson.  It’s about two little girls in the Deep South, one black and one white who have been told not to play with each other.  The children’s librarian had called it an upper grade book, but my kids got the message almost immediately.  We read the book, and I asked them why the girl’s parents had told them not to play with each other.  “Because one had black skin and one had white skin, Mommy.”  Then I asked them to look at  how old fashioned the little girls’ clothes were.  We discussed that these children were probably growing up about the time that Dr. King was working for civil rights and that because of Dr. King’s work, all children can be friends.  We talked about the kid’s friends from school and celebrated the fact that we are all different. 

I went to church today and was disappointed that on Martin Luther King Day the subject of King never came up.  Not during the sermon nor in the prayers of petition.  With my wiggly six year old beside me about to explode and an eleven year old who would have been embarassed if Mom had spoken out, I didn’t add my own prayer.  I’m very disappointed in myself .  If I had it to do over again, I would say something like this, “Dear Lord, thank you for the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King.  He has given so many the gift of dignity and the freedom of civil rights.  He changed the world and changed our hearts.  Lord help us never to forget King ‘s sacrifice.   Help us honor his legacy in our words and actions as we go forth from this place.”

Happy Trails,

Bridget

P.S.  This summer I discovered that the Washington D.C. area is a great place for children to learn about African American History.  Check out my post “Exploring African American History in Washington DC and Mt Vernon” on UPTAKE.COM for some suggestions.

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State Park Thursday: Celebrating California’s Underwater Parks at the Sea Life Aquarium and Beyond

January 13th, 2011 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in California State Parks, Sea Life Aquarium, Uncategorized

A little known fact about California’s State Parks is that our state has several state parks that are underwater!  These have been set up to preserve the ecological and cultural heritage of California’s marine areas.  Once California’s Coastline was teaming with sea life and our economy benefited from it.  Whether sardines in Monterey or California lobsters in San Diego, the fisherman reaped the bounty of California’s waters.  A few months ago I had the opportunity to view a You Tube lecture by UC  San Diego Researcher Dr. Milton Saier on “Our Oceans: a History of San Diego Sea Life”.  The entire lecture is twenty minutes, but even in the first few minutes Saier gives a powerful description of the tremendous impact that over fishing has had on the San Diego Bay.

These protected park areas also include historical artifacts like shipwrecks and Native American midden sites.  Divers  are encourage to respectfully  explore these underwater historical wonders.  Look, but don’t touch!

California’s Underwater Parks are protected areas for fragile marine ecosystems.  Visitors can still swim, surf, and dive in these areas, but fishing may be restricted.  If you visit and plan to fish be sure to research  the rules of that particular area.  Families should take care to respect these protected marine  areas by  observing the animals without removing them from tidepools , staying off the dunes, respecting historical sites, and packing their trash.

Building a Lego Sand Castle, Sea Life Aquarium Carlsbad, Ca

This Saturday the Legoland California Sea Life Aquarium is celebrating “Underwater Parks Day” to educate families about California’s underwater parks.  Kids will have a chance to create their very own marine habitat to take home.  Families can attend a mini Conservation Expo and interact with local marine protection organizations including  I Love a Clean San Diego, San Diego Coast Keeper, and the San Diego Oceans Foundation.  Be sure to catch the 11 am dive show and learn about San Diego’s Underwater Parks from a Sealife diver!

Artist Teresea Espaniola who created the amazing mural that you see above in collaboration with the students of Jefferson Elementary School will have her “garbage art” on display.  Ms. Espaniola does amazing collage/paintings to raise awareness about the impact of marine trash.  If you can’t make it to the aquarium be sure to visit her gartbage site and take a look.

Last  night I was reading Sweet Thursday the sequel to Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.  What I love about Steinbeck is that his deep understanding of America and Americans made him a something of a prophet.  So many things that he predicted for our country ring true today.  I leave you with this quote the stresses the need for protected areas off of our California shores and gives us something to think about in terms of other ways that we impact our environment.

The canneries themselves fought the war by getting the limit taken off fish and catching them all.  It was done for patriotic reasons, but that didn’t bring the fish back.  As with the oysters in Alice, “They’d eaten every one”.  It was the same noble impulse that stripped the forests of the West and right now is pumping water out of California’s earth faster than it can rain back in.  When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten.  The pearl-gray canneries of corrugated iron were silent and a pacing watchman was their only life.  The street that once roared with trucks was quiet and empty.

We have a lot to learn from the ecological mistakes of the past.  Let’s teach our children to respect California’s Underwater Parks so these marine treasures can be shared with generations to come!

Happy Trails,

Bridget

Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursdays.  This week Trekaroo is featuring activities that honor Dr. Martin Luther King throughout the US.  I am hoping to honor Dr. King’s Legacy this month with some posts on how to use travel to teach kids about the roots of racism as well as attending an event at the library.   How will your family honor Dr. King this month?

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Move It Monday: Moving it at LEGOLAND, California (Plus how to get a discount ticket to LEGOLAND)

January 10th, 2011 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Legoland, Legoland bargains, LEGOLAND Brick or Treat, Legoland Discounts, Uncategorized

Destiny Boogies Down at the Brick or Treat Dance Party, LEGOLAND, CA

Most theme parks are pretty good places to get your family moving.  After all,  by the time your family makes it to all the attractions you have hiked several miles.  LEGOLAND, California however goes above and beyond with great play ground areas, self propelled rides, and special events that integrate movement and fun.  Here are some of the ways that a trip to LEGOLAND California will get your family moving:

Rides  That Encourage Movement

Families work together to make the fire engine go at LEGOLAND, California

Two of my favorite rides at the park are the Fun Town Fire Academy and Kid Power Towers.  Both require families to work together to propel themselves on the ride.  Hopefully LEGOLAND will consider the importance of  ”kid power” when designing future rides.

Fun Play Grounds for all Ages

Whether its the semi enclosed Duplo themed playground for toddlers or the daring Hideaways area complete with rope ladders and slides,  these playgrounds are great for kids and relaxing for parents.

Water Slides Galore

LEGOLAND has a really fun water slide in the Pirate Shores area and has also opened a separate water park.  With lots of stairs to climb, these wet and wild attractions keep kids moving.

Special Events

LEGOLAND incorporates movement into many of their special events.  At Halloween, the Brick or Treat Dance party was a big hit with my kids.  The first Thursday of the Month LEGOLAND has free stroller strides classes for visiting moms as part of their Model Moms Club Program.  Coming up in a few weeks is the Kids Marathon Mile.  Kids get to run a mile at LEGOLAND (a diaper dash is also offered)  then are given a ticket and enjoy the park that weekend.   Kids entrance fees are only $20 making this a true LEGOLAND bargain. (The park hopper ticket offered is usually $69!).  Register soon. Spaces are limited.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

(Most Pictures courtesy of LEGOLAND California)

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Photo Friday: Jared Adventures

December 3rd, 2010 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Uncategorized

My youngest turns six today.  Hard to believe how this year has flown by.  Today he was student of the week and announced that his favorite thing to read was his mom’s blog.  So to honor my biggest fan, here is a little round up of Jared’s adventures this year.

Jared's Fifth Birthday Celebration at Disneyland

A Spring Celebration at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Padres Game, Fourth of July

Paddleboating in Santa Cruz

Watersliding at the Flamingo, Las Vegas

Jared enjoys the Legoland Waterpark

   Jared, proud birthday boy and student of week!

This time of year, my thoughts turn to the village who has helped raised this marvelous child. Thanks to my awesome OBGYN Dr. Marsha Muir and my friend Kelly “doula chick” Olmstead of Dawning Mama Midwifery.  Thanks to Jared’s amazing compassionate and smart teachers, Ms. Ellen, Ms. Katherine, Ms. Trish, and Ms. Wiggins.  Thanks to Jared’s loving nurturing grandparents and our other family and friends.  Jared is so lucky to have all of you in his life.

Seeing how much Jared has grown up this year, I can’t help but think there are more adventures in store for Jared this year! Looking forward to learning more about my sweet loving quirky kid.

Have a great weekend!

Happy Trails,

Bridget

P.S. Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup.  Stop by to see great travel photos from all over the world!  This week Debbie has info about the Passports with Purpose Blog Fundraiser.  Don’t forget to enter to win my great LEGOLAND prize pack.

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Cyber Monday: Do Good, Build a Village, Maybe Score the Best Christmas Present Ever!

November 29th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

Passports with Purpose has raised $40,ooo towards their goal of building a village in India, but they still have a ways to go.  In the midst of your online shopping stop by the Passports With Purpose website and make a donation on behalf of yourself or someone on your list.  The odds are great, and you can win some marvelous trips and travel gear.  If your special someone wins, but sure that they promise to invite you along ;) .

Here are some of my favorite prizes:

Travel Gear

What Boundaries Travelis offering a waterproof Kodak Video Camera.  I could have used this last time my family was splashing in those awesome Las Vegas pools.

The World is Calling is offering a Wireless 3G Kindle.  My ultimate vacation pleasure is taking some time to read a great book.  I don’t even mind the airplane ride if I can be reading ;) .  This is my dream travel accessory.

Desperately Seeking Rootbeer is offering a 3G Apple  iPad.  I can’t remember the last time I didn’t bring my laptop on a trip, and this would really lighten my load.

Mom and Dad Getaways

Big Island on the Cheap is offering a Hawaii Getaway.  A three night stay in an ocean view room would be marvelous.  Apparently plane tickets to Hawaii are cheaper then they have ever been, so this is a great time to visit.

My friends at The Vacation Gals are offering a  3-night Stay at San Juan Marriott Resort, Puerto Rico.  Now that would be a great way to practice my Spanish!

Best Family Travel Advice is offering a five night stay at any Paradise by Marriott resort.  I’ve been dreaming of a getaway to somewhere warm and tropical.  Haven’t you?

Family Fun

My friends at Trekaroo have secured a two night stay at any Homewood Suites in North America.  It sounds like Homewood Suites would be perfect for a traveling family.

Mother of All Trips scored 2 adult and 2 child Go Cards.  Use them here in San Diego and enjoy most of the cities major attractions.

Of course,Family Adventure Guidebooks is  offering the ultimate LEGOLAND adventure package.  Four passes to LEGOLAND, four tickets to the Museum of Making Music, and a $200 HotelClub.com credit.

About Hotelclub:
HotelClub is a world leading global accommodation website offering hotel and accommodation bookings for up to 12 months in advance, listing hotels in cities big and small, from hotels in New York City to budget rooms in Amsterdam. Established in 1996, HotelClub provides consumers with over 69,000 accommodation choices in over 7,300 cities worldwide throughout 138 countries. HotelClub is a truly global offering with its services available in fourteen languages. The company operates three websites – HotelClub.com, RatesToGo.com and AsiaHotels.com.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

 

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Happy Thanksgiving from Family Adventure Guidebooks!

November 25th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Here’s Jared at Kindergarten Native American Day.  Sometimes the best adventures can be found close to home.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to share it with the ones I love.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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I’m Going Golfing in The Library Tomorrow.

November 13th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Uncategorized

A mini golf fundraiser  takes place this Sunday at the Dove Library to benefit Carlsbad’s Friends of the Library Foundation. Care to join me?  Check out my post on Carlsbadistan (one of the best sources of news about what’s going on in the wild’s of Carlsbad)  for more info.  I’ll be sure to post pictures soon!

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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State Park Blog Rally Wrapup: How We Move Forward

November 9th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in California State Parks, Uncategorized

Cleaning Up Carlsbad State Beach

Needless to say I’m a wee bit disappointed at voters in the State of California.  We have passed up a golden opportunity to improve access to our state parks, attract more tourists, and preserve these natural treasures for future generations.  That said, I was amazed by the overwhelming support for California’s state parks throughout the blogsphere.  Thanks to Delicious Baby, Trekaroo, and Traveling Mom for hosting blog roundups and twitter parties to rally for this important cause.  Thanks to all the other bloggers who shared their love of state parks through blog posts.  I treasured every one.

This week I found myself asking, “How can we continue to support our state parks in the midst of these trying budget times?”

Here are some thoughts:

Visit California’s State Parks!

California’s politicians aren’t going to consider this a budget priority unless they see that the majority of Californians visit state parks on a regular basis.  So, go to the beach, take the kids camping or hike through the redwoods.  Make California’s state parks a family destination.

Do Service Projects

One of my family’s favorite things to do is go clean up our local state beach.  My son’s cub scout troop does this twice a year.  In my study of the state parks issue, one thing that stands out  is the dedicated service that thousands of Californians perform for their state parks.  The volunteer docents in costume at Wilder Ranch State Park made for one of our most memorable state park visits ever!

Donate a Symbolic $18 to the California State Parks Foundation.

Visit the California State Parks Foundation  website to make a donation or buy a membership.  Some levels have pretty great perks.

Stay Informed and Inspired

In addition to the California State Parks Foundation, I have found Folks 4 State Parks to be a great place to be reminded of why we advocate for our California State Parks.  Stop by to see some breathtaking videos of Christopher’s state park journeys.

Buy a State Parks Pass

A current California annual day use pass is a heck of a lot more than $18, but it’s still cheaper than a family trip to Disneyland.  Rumors are swirling about dramatic increases in day use fees in order to fund the parks,  so buy your California State Parks Day Use Pass now.  Prices range from $90-$125 depending on the parks that accept the pass.

Once again thanks for all the blog love for California State Parks.  The rally is over, but the crusade must continue ;) .

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Wordless Wednesday: Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz California

October 26th, 2010 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in California State Parks, Santa Cruz County Adventures, Uncategorized, Wordless Wednesday

The Natural Bridge at Natural Bridges State Beach (Others were washed away by erosion)

A day with friends at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California:

Chilly Summer Picnic, Natural Bridges State Beach

Justin's Kelp Flag, Natural Bridges State Beach

Watching the Waves, Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz

 Happy Trails!

Bridget

P.S. Check out Travel Savvy Mom’s post on saving California’s State Parks

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Photo Friday: Bellagio Fountains

October 21st, 2010 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Las Vegas Adventures, Las Vegas with Kids, Uncategorized

Bellagio Fountains Las Vegas

My absolute favorite Las Vegas attraction is the Bellagio Fountains.   On my first trip to Vegas, I took in this breathtaking watershow next to my sister-in-law who was discretely nursing her baby and with my oldest son, a tired, restless preschooler.  A few years later, my husband and I stayed at the Paris Hotel for a couples getaway.  I stayed up every night looking across the street at the show  from my climate controlled hotel room until the fountains were shut down for the night.  In 2009, my oldest and I made a long  hot summer trek on foot from the MGM Grand to the Bellagio .  Justin in a typical tween way was underwhelmed by the spectacle.

Ken and Justin take in the Bellagio Fountains Las Vegas

My latest visit to the fountains, however, is  the one I will always treasure.  We were able to share the fountain show  with all three kids this summer.  Destiny and Jared danced in the darkness to the beautiful music.  Ken and Justin stood silently taking it all in.  I had a moment to reflect on how much our family has grown and changed  since that first Las Vegas visit over eight years ago. 

People don’t think of Las Vegas as a family travel destination, but it has a lot to offer if you know where to look (and what to avoid). Indeed it is my youngest child’s favorite place to visit due his desire to stay in fancy hotels.  Keep an eye on this blog in the coming months.  I’ll share more of our Smith Family adventures in this affordable, off beat family travel destination.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

P.S. Family Adventure Guidebook participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup.   This week Debbie has a great LEGO photo up.  Check it out!

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